Chelsea Football Club
Chelsea Football Club (also known as The Blues or previously The Pensioners) are a professional English football club based in West London. Founded in 1905, they play in the Premier League and have spent most of their history in the top tier of English fo
Chelsea Football Club (also known as The Blues or previously The Pensioners) are a professional English football club based in West London. Founded in 1905, they play in the Premier League and have spent most of their history in the top tier of English football. Chelsea have been English champions three times, and have won the FA Cup four times, the League Cup four times and the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup twice.
The club had their first major success in 1955, winning the league championship. Chelsea won several cup competitions during the 1960s and 1970s, but did not win another major title until 1997. The past decade has been the most successful period in Chelsea's history, capped by winning consecutive Premier League titles in 2005 and 2006, and reaching their first UEFA Champions League final in 2008.
Chelsea's home is the 42,055-person-capacity Stamford Bridge football stadium in Fulham, West London, where they have played since their establishment. Despite their name, the club are based just outside the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. In 2003, they were bought by Russian oil magnate Roman Abramovich.
Chelsea's traditional kit colours are royal blue shirts and shorts with white socks. The club crest has been changed several times in attempts to modernise or re-brand; the current crest, featuring a ceremonial lion holding a staff, is a modified version of the one first adopted in the 1950s. The club enjoys a large fan base, with the fifth highest average all-time attendance in English football. Their average home gate for the 2007-08 season was 41,673, the fifth highest in the Premier League.
Chelsea were founded on 14 March 1905 at The Rising Sun pub (now The Butcher's Hook), opposite the present-day main entrance to the ground on Fulham Road, and were elected to the Football League shortly afterwards. The club's early years saw little success; the closest they came to winning a major trophy was reaching the FA Cup final in 1915, where they lost to Sheffield United. Chelsea gained a reputation for signing big-name players and for being entertainers, but made little impact on the English game in the inter-war years.
Former England centre-forward Ted Drake became manager in 1952 and proceeded to modernise the club. He removed the club's Chelsea pensioner crest, improved the youth set-up and training regime, rebuilt the side, and led Chelsea to their first major trophy success the League championship in 1954–55. The following season saw UEFA create the European Champions' Cup, but after objections from The Football League and the FA Chelsea were persuaded to withdraw from the competition before it started.
The 1960s saw the emergence of a talented young Chelsea side under manager Tommy Docherty. They challenged for honours throughout the decade, and endured several near-misses. They were on course for a treble of League, FA Cup and League Cup going into the final stages of the 1964–65 season, winning the League Cup but faltering late on in the other two. In three seasons the side were beaten in three major semi-finals and were FA Cup runners-up. In 1970 Chelsea were FA Cup winners, beating Leeds United 2–1 in a final replay. Chelsea took their first European honour, a UEFA Cup Winners' Cup triumph, the following year, with another replayed win, this time over Real Madrid in Athens.
The late 1970s and the 1980s were a turbulent period for Chelsea. An ambitious redevelopment of Stamford Bridge threatened the financial stability of the club, star players were sold and the team were relegated. Further problems were caused by a notorious hooligan element among the support, which was to plague the club throughout the decade. In 1982 Chelsea were, at the nadir of their fortunes, acquired by Ken Bates for the nominal sum of £1, although by now the Stamford Bridge freehold had been sold to property developers, meaning the club faced losing their home. On the pitch, the team had fared little better, coming close to relegation to the Third Division for the first time, but in 1983 manager John Neal put together an impressive new team for minimal outlay. Chelsea won the Second Division title in 1983–84 and established themselves in the top division, before being relegated again in 1988. The club bounced back immediately by winning the Second Division championship in 1988–89.
Chelsea reached their first UEFA Champions League final in 2008.After a long-running legal battle, Bates reunited the stadium freehold with the club in 1992 by doing a deal with the banks of the property developers, who had been bankrupted by a market crash. Chelsea's form in the new Premier League was unconvincing, although they did reach the FA Cup final in 1994. It was not until the appointment of former European Footballer of the Year Ruud Gullit as player-manager in 1996 that their fortunes changed. He added several top-class international players to the side, as the club won the FA Cup in 1997 and established themselves as one of England's top sides again. Gullit was replaced by Gianluca Vialli, who led the team to victory in the League Cup and the Cup Winners' Cup in 1998, the FA Cup in 2000 and the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals in 2000. Vialli was sacked in favour of another Italian, Claudio Ranieri, who guided Chelsea to the 2002 FA Cup final and Champions League qualification in 2002–03.
In June 2003, Bates sold Chelsea to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich for £140 million, completing what was then the biggest-ever sale of an English football club. Over £100 million was spent on new players, but Ranieri was unable to deliver any trophies, so he was replaced by Portuguese coach José Mourinho. Under Mourinho, Chelsea became the fifth English team to win back-to-back league championships since the Second World War (2004-05 and 2005-06), in addition to winning an FA Cup (2007) and two League Cups (2005 and 2007). In September 2007 Mourinho was replaced by Avram Grant, who led the club to their first UEFA Champions League final, in which they were defeated in a penalty shootout by Manchester United. Grant was sacked days later and succeeded by Luiz Felipe Scolari in July 2008.
Chelsea have only ever had one home ground, Stamford Bridge, where they have played since foundation. It was officially opened on 28 April 1877. For the first 28 years of its existence it was used almost exclusively by the London Athletics Club as an arena for athletics meetings and not at all for football. In 1904 the ground was acquired by businessman Gus Mears and his brother, J T Mears, who had previously acquired additional land (formerly a large market garden) with the aim of staging football matches on the now 12.5 acre (51,000 m2) site.
Stamford Bridge was designed for the Mears family by the noted football architect Archibald Leitch. They offered the stadium to Fulham Football Club, but the offer was turned down. As a consequence, the owners decided to form their own football club to occupy their new ground. Most football clubs were founded first, and then sought grounds in which to play, but Chelsea were founded for Stamford Bridge. Since there was already a football club named Fulham in the borough, the founders decided to adopt the name of the adjacent borough of Chelsea for the new club, having rejected names such as Kensington FC, Stamford Bridge FC and London FC.
Starting with an open bowl-like design and one covered terrace, Stamford Bridge had an original capacity of around 100,000. The early 1930s saw the construction of a terrace on the southern part of the ground with a roof that covered around one fifth of the stand. It eventually became known as the "Shed End", the home of Chelsea's most loyal and vocal supporters, particularly during the 1960s, 70s and 80s. The exact origins of the name are unclear, but the fact that the roof looked like a corrugated iron shed roof played a part. During the late 1960s and early 70s, the club's owners embarked on a modernisation of Stamford Bridge with plans for a 50,000 all-seater stadium. Work began on the East Stand in the early 1970s but the cost almost brought the club to its knees, and the freehold was sold to property developers. Following a long legal battle, it was not until the mid-1990s that Chelsea's future at the stadium was secured and renovation work resumed. The north, west and southern parts of the ground were converted into all-seater stands and moved closer to the pitch, a process completed by 2001.
The Stamford Bridge pitch, the freehold, the turnstiles and Chelsea's naming rights are now owned by Chelsea Pitch Owners, a non-profit organisation in which fans are the shareholders. The CPO was created to ensure the stadium could never again be sold to developers. It also means that if the club moves to a new location, they could not use the Chelsea FC name.
The club plans to increase its capacity to over 50,000. Owing to its location in a built-up part of London on a main road and next to two railway lines, fans can only enter the stadium through the Fulham Road entrance, which places severe constraints on expansion due to health and safety regulations. As a result, Chelsea have been linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge to sites including the Earls Court Exhibition Centre, Battersea Power Station and the Chelsea Barracks. However, the club have reiterated their desire to keep Chelsea at their current home.
Chelsea have always worn blue shirts, although they initially adopted a lighter shade than the current version, and unlike today wore white shorts and dark blue socks. The lighter blue was taken from the racing colours of then club president, Earl Cadogan. The light blue shirts were short-lived, however, and replaced by a royal blue version in around 1912. When Tommy Docherty became manager in the early 1960s he changed the kit again, adding blue shorts (which have remained ever since) and white socks, believing it made the club's colours more distinctive, since no other major side used that combination; this kit was first worn during the 1964–65 season.
Chelsea's traditional away colours are all yellow or all white with blue trim, but, as with most teams, they have had some more unusual ones. The first away strip consisted of black and white stripes and for one game in the 1960s the team wore Inter Milan-style blue and black stripes, again at Docherty's behest. Other memorable away kits include a mint green strip in the 1980s, a red and white checked one in the early 90s and a graphite and tangerine addition in the mid-1990s.
Chelsea's kit is currently manufactured by Adidas, which is contracted to supply the club's kit from 2006 to 2011. Their previous kit manufacturer was Umbro. Chelsea's first shirt sponsor was Gulf Air, agreed midway through the 1983–84 season. Following that, the club were sponsored by Grange Farms, Bai Lin tea and Italian company Simod before a long-term deal was signed with computer manufacturer Commodore International in 1989; Amiga, an off-shoot of Commodore, also appeared on the shirts. Chelsea were subsequently sponsored by Coors beer (1995–97), Autoglass (1997–2001) and Emirates Airline (2001–05). Chelsea's current shirt sponsor is Samsung.
Chelsea have the fifth highest average all-time attendance in English football and regularly attract over 40,000 fans to Stamford Bridge; they were the fifth best-supported Premiership team in the 2007–08 season, with an average gate of 41,673. Chelsea's traditional fanbase comes from working-class parts of West London, such as Hammersmith and Battersea, from wealthier areas like Chelsea and Kensington, and from the Home Counties. In addition to the standard football chants, Chelsea fans sing songs like "Carefree", "Blue is the Colour", "We all follow the Chelsea" (to the tune of Land of Hope and Glory), "Ten Men Went to Mow", "Zigga Zagga", "Hello! Hello!" and the celebratory "Celery", with the latter often resulting in fans ritually throwing celery.
Chelsea do not have a traditional rivalry in the manner of Liverpool and Everton or Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur. The club's nearest neighbours are Fulham, but they are not seen as big rivals by Chelsea fans, because the clubs have spent most of the last 40 years in separate divisions. A 2004 survey by Planetfootball.com found that Chelsea fans consider their main rivalries to be with (in order): Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United. Additionally, a strong rivalry with Leeds United dates back to several heated and controversial matches in the 1960s and 1970s, particularly the FA Cup final in 1970. A more recent rivalry has grown with Liverpool following several clashes in cup competitions.
During the 1970s and 1980s in particular, Chelsea supporters were long associated with football hooliganism. The club's "football firm", originally the Chelsea Shed Boys, now known as the Chelsea Headhunters, were nationally notorious for violent acts against hooligans from other teams, such as West Ham United's Inter City Firm and Millwall's Bushwackers, both during and after matches. The increase in hooliganism in the 1980s led chairman Ken Bates to propose an electric fence to deter them from invading the pitch; the proposal was rejected by the GLC. Chelsea's hooligan element were revealed to have links with neo-nazi groups such as Combat 18, and other far-right or racist organisations including the National Front. Since the 1990s there has been a marked decline in crowd trouble at matches, as a result of stricter policing, CCTV in grounds and the advent of all-seater stadia.
Chelsea's highest appearance-maker is ex-captain Ron Harris, who played in 795 first-class games for the club between 1961 and 1980. This record is unlikely to be broken in the near future; Chelsea's current highest appearance-maker is Frank Lampard with 380. The record for a Chelsea goalkeeper is held by Harris's contemporary, Peter Bonetti, who made 729 appearances (1959–79). With 116 caps (74 while at the club), Marcel Desailly of France is Chelsea's most capped international player.
Bobby Tambling is Chelsea's all-time top goalscorer, with 202 goals in 370 games (1959–70). Seven other players have also scored over 100 goals for Chelsea: George Hilsdon (1906–12), George Mills (1929–39), Roy Bentley (1948–56), Jimmy Greaves (1957–61), Peter Osgood (1964–74 & 1978–79), Kerry Dixon (1983–92), and Frank Lampard (2001–). With 193 goals, Dixon is the only player in the club's recent history to have come close to matching Tambling's record. Greaves holds the record for the most goals scored in one season (43 in 1960–61). Lampard is the top scorer currently at the club.
Officially, Chelsea's highest home attendance is 82,905 for a First Division match against Arsenal on 12 October 1935. However, an estimated crowd of over 100,000 attended a friendly match against Soviet team Dynamo Moscow on 13 November 1945. The modernisation of Stamford Bridge during the 1990s and the introduction of all-seater stands mean that neither record will be broken for the foreseeable future. The current legal capacity of Stamford Bridge is 42,055.
Chelsea hold numerous records in English and European football. They hold the record for the highest ever points total for a league season (95), the fewest goals conceded during a league season (15), the most consecutive clean sheets during a league season (10), the highest number of Premier League victories in a season (29), the highest number of clean sheets overall in a Premier League season (25), and Chelsea even have the highest win percentage of all time in a top-flight season. (all set during the 2004–05 season), and the most consecutive clean sheets from the start of a league season (6).
The club's 21–0 aggregate victory over Jeunesse Hautcharage in the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1971 remains a record in European competition. Roberto Di Matteo holds the record for fastest goal in an FA Cup final, which came 42 seconds into Chelsea's win over Middlesbrough in 1997. Chelsea hold the record for the longest streak of unbeaten matches at home in the English top-flight, which lasted 86 matches from 10 April 2004 to 26 October 2008. They secured the record on 12 August 2007, beating the previous record of 63 matches unbeaten set by Liverpool between 1978 and 1980.
Chelsea have recorded several "firsts" in English football. Along with Arsenal, they were the first club to play with shirt numbers on 25 August 1928 in their match against Swansea Town. Chelsea were the first English side to travel by aeroplane to a domestic away match, when they visited Newcastle United on 19 April 1957, and the first First Division side to play a match on a Sunday, when they faced Stoke City on 27 January 1974. On 26 December 1999, Chelsea became the first British side to field an entirely foreign (non-UK) starting line-up in a Premier League match against Southampton. On 19 May 2007, they became the first team to win the FA Cup at the new Wembley Stadium, having also been the last to win it at the old Wembley. After the conclusion of the 2007/2008 season, Chelsea became the highest ranked club under UEFA's five-year coefficient system used in the seeding of European club competitions in the following season, the first English club to do so in the 21st century.
In popular culture
In 1930, Chelsea featured in one of the earliest football films, The Great Game. One-time Chelsea centre forward, Jack Cock, who by then was playing for Millwall, was the star of the film and several scenes were shot at Stamford Bridge, including the pitch, the boardroom and the dressing rooms. It included guest appearances by then-Chelsea players Andrew Wilson, George Mills and Sam Millington. Owing to the notoriety of the Chelsea Headhunters, a football firm associated with the club, Chelsea have also featured in films about football hooliganism, most recently The Football Factory. Chelsea also appear in the Hindi film, Jhoom Barabar Jhoom.
Up until the 1950s, the club had a long-running association with the music halls, with their underachievement often providing material for comedians such as George Robey. It culminated in comedian Norman Long's release of a comic song in 1933, ironically titled "On The Day That Chelsea Went and Won The Cup", the lyrics of which described a series of bizarre and improbable occurrences on the hypothetical day when Chelsea finally won a trophy.
The song "Blue Is the Colour" was released as a single in the build-up to the 1972 League Cup Final, with all members of Chelsea's first team squad singing; it reached number five in the UK Singles Chart. The song was later adapted to "White Is the Colour" and adopted as an anthem by the Vancouver Whitecaps. In the build-up to the 1997 FA Cup final, the song "Blue Day", performed by Suggs and members of Chelsea's squad, reached number 22 in the UK charts. Bryan Adams, a fan of Chelsea, dedicated the song "We're Gonna Win" from the album 18 Til I Die to the club.